Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Night of Worship: Audrey Assad, Bellarive, and Joe Zambon in Toronto

by Stephanie Ferraro

Music is one of the most beautiful and magical things in the world. Not only can it stir feelings deep within and draw upon one's emotions, music also has the ultimate power to bring people together. On the evening of Tuesday, September 16, 2014 I had the incredible opportunity to embrace all that music has to offer and more. The experience on a whole was inviting and healing, and the presence of God was certainly felt by all.

JOE ZAMBON (photo by Jason DeHetre)
Joe Zambon started the evening off with a soulful performance and his warm smile. His thoughtful lyrics and passion for performing showed through during his set. I noticed, instantly, how amazing Joe’s guitar playing was. The soothing sound of his vocals, paired with his own intriguing lyrics echoed in the theatre of St. Michael’s College School and made for an incredible folk-style performance. Before launching into his song titled, I Just Want Peace, he explained to be as if he had just “cut open his chest and pulled out his heart”. It’s a beautifully written song that he wrote while reflecting on one of his favourite passages about Jesus and the Samaritan woman; a story that spoke to him in many ways. He explained how the well in the passage represents the place we go to, to draw life from over and over again. He went on to say that for the woman, the well represents relationships and Jesus proposed to her a relationship that is much more satisfying in body and spirit. “From the inside first and flowing to the outside,” Joe mused. “I think Jesus was proposing to this woman, ‘I can give you peace, something that will satisfy you.’” Beautiful song. Profound message. Outstanding performance.

Bellarive stole my heart with their uplifting performance. Uplifting, to me, is one of the best ways to describe it. Audrey, who introduced the band, asked the audience to remain standing for the set and Bellarive certainly got the crowd moving. More passionate performers!! Yay! One of the most satisfying things for me, especially as a performer myself, is to see someone LOVE what they do, and Bellarive showed just that. Not only their love for performing, but also their love for God. For those who haven't heard of them, you must take a listen to their music! It’s the kind of music you want to rock out to in the car, but does not lack amazing lyrics with profound messages.

BELLARIVE (photo by Jason DeHetre)
I loved the little bits of spoken words that were added into the set by singers, Sean and Melissa. “Each and everyone of us, even if you don't realize it, we’re here for the same purpose. We this unbelievable opportunity to be apart of something bigger than ourselves. The grace of God invites us here tonight,” Sean explained. He invited the crowd to join in singing their songs, and asked them to think about the words they were singing because they are prayers. Their rendition of In Christ Alone was personally my favourite, as well as their final song Calling On Fire, a song based on God’s chosen identity throughout the scripture being fire.

Both Bellarive and Joe Zambon gave incredible performances and surely gained plenty of new fans after this wonderful evening, including myself!

As I mentioned before, I am a performer and some of my favourite songs to sing, not only at my local parish, but outside of the church as well, are by Audrey Assad. I’ve been listening to her for about 5 years and many songs such as Restless and Winter Snow have become staples in my repertoire. I feel so blessed to have had the chance to watch her perform live only a few feet away from me.

Audrey Assad began her set with her song Death, Be Not Proud. I have so much respect for artists who can sound identical on stage to how they do on their tracks. Her vocals were nothing less than perfection. The clarity in her voice is soothing and makes you never want to stop listening! She continued her set with a cover of John Mark McMillian’s song Death In His Grave. One of the things I love about Audrey’s live performances, is she's always at her piano. Playing and singing at the same time is a gift, people! (In my eyes it is, anyway!) She sang Good To Me next; one of my personal favourites off her new album. She taught it to the crowd which resulted in the entire theatre singing in unison: what a beautiful thing to experience. She explained that the song, like many of the songs on Fortunate Fall (her album), were inspired by Psalm 23. “I love singing from the psalms”, she said. Lead Me On comes up next, another favourite of mine, (I have a lot of favourites) especially because of the gorgeous piano solo featured in the song. Audrey then leads into her own version of Better Is One Day creating a medley of the two songs. Audrey went on to sing a new song called Lamb Of God and then another song from her album called, Humble. Audrey then went on to sing her own rendition of More Of You and I Will Exalt You in another medley. I am a huge fan of the song More Of You by Colton Dixon and it’s message. The message being that if all we need is God in our lives and in our hearts and if we allow Him to, He will show us the way and make us who we are meant to be.

AUDREY ASSAD (photo by Jason DeHetre)
Audrey continued with a stunning rendition of I See You. Even writing about the concert makes me want to relive it all over again!  She sang Love is Moving and Do You Speak and her band left the stage quietly. I took a moment during Audrey’s set to look at the people around me. It was so touching to see the emotion people felt while listening to her sing her praises and share these moments with her. The very last song she sings is Lord, I Need You, a crowd-pleaser indeed, because I was certain there wasn't one person in the audience that didn't know every single word. Audrey exited the stage and left the last chorus to the audience. There was a genuine sense of unity among the crowd as they sang in harmony (musically and figuratively). Tears were shed by many, and the room was overwhelmed with sweet praise and God’s presence in every one of us. This Night Of Worship was surely one filled with beauty.